Donation to help Clanton resident communicate

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The ceremonial first pitch is a long-standing baseball tradition.

During a recent Birmingham Barons game, five-year-old Caleb Calfee of Clanton participated.

The ATI Foundation had coordinated the first pitch to present the Calfee family a check for a device to help Caleb, who was diagnosed with autism at a year and a half, develop his speech skills.

“We want to thank ATI for everything they did,” Krystal Calfee said. “We couldn’t have had this experience without their help this, and we greatly appreciate everything they did to make Saturday (Aug. 26) so special.”

Calfee said she was surprised when she found out about the donation. She said insurance covers most of what Caleb needs as far as therapy, but not everything.

Caleb attends therapy at United Ability in Birmingham.

“We had been talking about getting him a device for communication,” Calfee said.

They were getting ready to start the process to get the device through the family’s health insurance, but United Ability reached out to ATI Foundation about donating the device to the family.

“It will be used for him to communicate his wants and needs, hopefully … he will get to where he can speak a lot more,” Calfee said.

The device is similar to an electronic tablet, but has a specialized program, LAMP.

Krystal Calfee said the device allows Caleb to touch a picture to communicate what he wants or needs.

“He can do a whole sentence if he wants to, but right now we are working with just a few words,” Calfee said.

The device then reads aloud what Caleb has selected, so he can hear how to pronounce the words.

Calfee said Caleb has been using the device in his therapy sessions for two years, but the donation will allow him to have a device at home for everyday use.

United Ability will order the device for the family, and it should arrive rather quickly.

“We were very surprised because we weren’t expecting a device until December,” Calfee said.

She said the family was “overjoyed” at this opportunity.

Right now, Caleb communicates through signing, but “it’s signs he has made up, and I am the only one that understands it. With this device, other people will be able to understand him,” Calfee said.

Noah Davis of Moody, Alabama, who is 4 years old, also participated in the first pitch. His family received a check toward “out-of-pocket therapy expenses related to Noah’s cerebral palsy-related selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery,” according to a ATI Foundation media release.

ATI Foundation is the giving branch of ATI Physical Therapy.